Legacy of the Great Patriotic War
|Babi Yar is a symbol for 'forgotten histories'. East of Auschwitz as much Jews were shot by bullets as killed in gas chambers. It also stands for the executed prisoners of war that got caught rather than fighting till the end, because 'losers need no commemoration'. Only in the seventies a monument was erected for the 'Kiev residents and prisoners of war' murdered by the 'German fascist invaders'. Independent Ukraine pays respect to all groups murdered at Babi Yar, not only the Jews. In Russia however, scholars who undermine the official history of the Great Patriotic War are threatened with fines and jail. Even recently, its Foreign Ministry called the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939 'a campaign of liberation' to protect Belarussians and Ukrainians after the German invasion.
Glorifying the heroes of the Great Patriotic War today isn’t just a commemoration of 27 million dead Soviet soldiers and civilians, but also a reminder of what Russia in particular was once capable of. In the highly popular 'Immortal Regiment' parades, children and grandchildren honor the sacrifices of veterans with photos of their relatives. May 9, 2015, at the 70th anniversary of the war’s end, Putin took part in the 'people’s section' of the Victory Day Parade on the Red Square, carrying a picture of a 'common soldier', his father. The almost sacralised Soviet victory over Nazism is now central to the politics of memory by the Russian state. It also sanctions the Kremlin's great-power ambitions. The messianic myth of Russia as the most suffering nation saving the world from the absolute evil of Nazism covers up dark chapters of Soviet history and forms the historical foundation for Russia's legitimation of the 'special military operation' against Ukraine.